Category: Pittsburgh

John Waters trivia

Ages ago, when I used to work at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco, we used to play this trailer before the main feature for our own amusement. According to a staff member, the John Waters No Smoking trailer was actually filmed at the Roxie years earlier.

The Roxie was one of the first theatres in the country to screen Waters’ first films (My faves are Desperate Living and Pink Flamingos) – and even after he became a nationally known director and notorious purveyor of smut, he never forgot the the tiny Roxie Cinema. Every year at Xmas I used to see a handwritten card from Waters himself hanging in the narrow staircase leading up to the projection booth. What a classy guy.

The last time I saw him was at the Warhol Museum. He had a show of his artwork there and a friend and I skipped our graduation ceremony so that we could go to the opening. I gave him one of Rev. Hugh Pokrit’s 3D prayer rugs from my MFA thesis show. I’d like to think that it’s now hanging in his house somewhere…hopefully surrounded by merkins and PLA memorabilia.

Design Gallery

thumbnail images from balluff design gallery
thumbnail images from balluff design gallery

I finally collected and uploaded a new design gallery of my print and web-based works from the mid-nineties to the present. It consists of 138 images of business cards, club cards, print ads, film posters, catalogs, websites and postcards from my years as a graphic designer in the SF Bay Area to now. Enjoy…

Warhol, Copyright and Fair Use

I’m developing a short talk on Andy Warhol, copyright and fair use, so I’ve added a new category as a way to track research. The “Rights & Repro” tag seems particularly appropriate for Warhol, who had more than his share of battles over source materials for various works.

He had rights issues with the Jackie series and the Flowers series, but no significant problems with the Campbell’s Soup paintings or Heinz boxes – which isn’t as ironic as it seems, as Warhol tended toward a straight-forward, deadpan presentation of his subjects. The Last Supper series, done towards the end of his life, was commissioned work paid for by a Milan bank. Imagine trying that today…

Artists who include a critique or a negative association coupled with a corporate logo or other proprietary material may have a very different experience.

Indeed, many of Warhol’s works couldn’t be made today without an army of lawyers on retainer. Warhol appropriated imagery (source material) from magazines, newspapers, and advertisements, not for lack of originality, but because his art was intentionally a mirror, reflecting culture back on ourselves in order to provoke comment.

His Electric Chair series (also based on a source photograph), gives the viewer no insight into his personal view of capital punishment, but acts as a catalyst for discussion none the less. He began the series in the early sixties, just as the United States was declaring a moratorium on capital punishment (only to re-institute it a decade later). The controversy surrounding the death penalty only helped to sell paintings and further Warhol’s notoriety.

However, Warhol’s appropriation of the Sing Sing electric chair image was based on a desire to use a culturally authentic image to represent the death penalty, a powerful totem on which viewers could project their own opinions. The fact that Warhol didn’t take the original image is as inconsequential as the fact that Marcel Duchamp didn’t manufacture his own urinals. It’s the transformation of the image from an everyday object into art that matters.

U.S. Attorney Scandal Comes to Pittsburgh

A former U.S. Attorney, Thomas J. Farrell, calls for the current USA, Mary Beth Buchanan to resign in a strongly worded op/ed piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

I won’t comment on her guilt or innocence, but suffice to say that if allegations of one-sided prosecutions are true, it certainly fits a pattern present in in other states where partisan (read: flimsy) cases were pushed by “loyal Bushies” against prominent Democrats; notably Missouri, Wisconsin and New Mexico.

Teens Invade the Warhol…

The Andy Warhol Museum hosts their annual Youth Invasion event beginning at 5pm on Friday, May 4th on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Teens spend over six months planning and preparing with Warhol staff for this event, which includes a fashion show, art work, live bands and DJs, food, and fun activities.

This year’s theme, Hot Box, gives a nod to Six Billion Perps Held Hostage! (the global warming exhibit up on the museum’s sixth floor) and offers the roughly twenty teenagers involved a chance to explore ideas about the planet’s future – utopian or dystopian – through their work. Art, a tin foil hat-making booth, performances by four local bands, rice krispie globes and more await…

Trading Oil for Degradation

“They’re giving the environmentalists the music and the industry the action.” – S. David Freeman, former Energy Advisor, Carter Administration

I just finished watching Who Killed the Electric Car, and it seems to me a huge indictment of not only monopolistic oil companies and automakers (General Motors in particular), but also of people supposedly working for the public good – public policy makers and our political leaders.

It also made me want to trade in my relatively fuel-efficient Civic for an EV1. I’d make that swich anyday, though after seeing the film, the whole idea of becoming a GM customer seems really distasteful.

The film is especially revealing in that it documents the strategies that were used both to discredit electric cars specificially, and less-polluting, renewable energy technologies in general. General Motors should be ashamed of its actions, as should the Bush Administration, particularly Andy Card Jr. – Bush’s Chief of Staff 2000-2006, and former VP at General Motors.

To me, global warming, weakened fuel efficiency standards, the war in Iraq, Bush Administration corruption and (apparent) incompetence, asthma, and worsening air quality all over this country are all related – the results of attempts by the fossil fuel industry and their cronies to stave off obsolescence and further strengthen their highly profitable world-wide energy monopoly with total disregard for the consequences.

I don’t have a problem with corporations making money, but please don’t do it at the expense of planetary habitability.

Speaking of which, 6 BILLION PERPS HELD HOSTAGE! Artists Address Global Warming opens tonight at the Warhol, and features an amazing crocheted coral reef, and The Yes Men’s SurvivaBall, among other works.

In Lieu of Condemnation

Friends are being evicted from a five story building that is being torn down by the City of Pittsburgh to make way for a new hockey stadium/Starbucks. Rather than go quietly, they’re having a big art event tonight to benefit the Hill House, and to celebrate the Sage Building, which has housed “artists, musicians, Democrats, robots and other creative endeavors since 1998.” I’ll be showing some of my graphic work from the last two years, including the Rapture Map. Other artists include Leslie Clague, Kirby Krieger, Greg Baltus, Sue Pisano, Paul Davies, Ian Kazimer and more. Sounds from DJs Pete Spynda (of Pandemic), Mary Mack and Sage.

In Lieu of Condemnation takes place Sat, Nov. 4th, from 5-10pm, with a $5 admission. Address: 1029 5th Avenue, between Magee St. and Washington Place.